SPORTS: Two Port Angeles divers lead boys swimming and diving team to new heights at state

PORT ANGELES — Nick Peterson and Austin Fahrenholtz has sent the Port Angeles boys swimming and diving team to heights it hasn’t seen in quite awhile.

The diving pair finished in the top three at the state Class 3A championships last month to help give the Roughriders 17th place out of 34 teams.

Fahrenholtz, a sophomore, passed by Peterson on the final dive of the competition to capture runner-up honors with 308.95 points in 11 dives on the 1-meter board while Peterson claimed third place with 302.75.

Peterson, a multitalented athlete who also excels in cross country and track, literally took the Riders to new heights the past couple of years, diving coach Pete Van Rossen said.

“Nick is a heck of an athlete,” Van Rossen said. “He gets higher into the air than anybody else in diving.”

Going into state the two planned to battle for second and third, conceding the state title to Highline’s Troy Neklason, a year-round club diver who won with 415.85 points.

Peterson led Fahrenholtz after the preliminaries (221.85 to 218.45) and Peterson was still leading going into the final dive.

The two friends are highly competitive with each other.

“I kind of wanted to beat him a little bit [for bragging rights],” Fahrenholtz said.

Divers get to pick what dive they want to do, and both picked the inward double for their final event.

“The inward double was the only new dive we added this year,” Van Rossen said. “It’s inward with two somersaults.”

Fahrenholtz nailed it to barely nudge past his teammate for second.

Peterson, though, has no hard feelings.

“He finally got me in the end,” Peterson said with a smile. “We wanted to compete and take second and third.

“I’m happy with what I did and it’s real cool that Austin took second. It made it all worthwhile.”

Van Rossen said he knew it was going to be a special year with these two divers.

Peterson took 11th at state as a sophomore and seventh as a junior while Fahrenholtz captured 10th last year as a freshman.

“We have been building on this for four years now,” Van Rossen said. “Nick was seventh last year and we knew he would be better.

“Austin was a surprise because he has been diving for only two years. Most of the other divers compete year-round in clubs.”

Next year when Port Angeles is a 2A school, Fahrenholtz already has his sights on the state championship.

“I want to win it,” he said.

Van Rossen said Fahrenholtz has a good shot at the title his junior year.

“Austin should be right there,” the diving coach said. “We need to add a couple of more dives and get better on a couple.”

Fahrenholtz won’t have to worry about Neklason next year because Highline is moving up to 4A. But the defending 2A champion will be lurking around.

Brian Drake of Squalicum won the 2A title with 333.40 points as a junior. He won’t be a pushover.

But Fahrenholtz likes that.

“I want the competition,” he said.

The competition between Fahrenholtz and Peterson all year drove the two to better dives and better placement, he said.

Fahrenholtz may not have the natural athletic ability as Peterson, but he makes up for that by his work habit, Van Rossen said.

“Austin is on the board all the time,” the coach said. “The two guys really work hard. They both do 15 to 20 pull-ups a night, they do stretches and they do other things other than just dive.”

Peterson, meanwhile, will be competing in track and the decathlon for Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma next year.

The decathlon is Peterson’s speciality. It features 10 track events, both in running and field events.

“It’s a fun two days,” Peterson said of the state decathlon championships, which take place the week after the regular state high school track and field championships.

The Roughrider could be in two state championship events two weekends in a row. First he could be at the state prep track meet the first weekend, and the decathlon state championships the next weekend.

Peterson, 18, was first at state in his age group (15-16) in the decathlon as a sophomore, 15th overall in state as a junior and he’s aiming for first place in his age group (17-18) this year.

When he’s not competing in the hurdles, high jump or pole vault in high school track, doing decathlon events, or diving and swimming (he also swam for the Roughriders), or running in cross country, Peterson is mountain biking or competing in new events called freerunning and Parkour.

Peterson is no couch potato.

And next year he will be starting premed classes at Pacific Lutheran.

Fahrenholtz, meanwhile, has that state diving title in sight before he graduates from high school.

Van Rossen, for one, believes that Fahrenholtz could get it done in his junior season.

“Austin may get a state championship next year,” his coach said.

And there’s no doubt that Peterson will be rooting for him the whole way.

________

Sports Editor Brad ­LaBrie can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]

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